Louisville didn't panic when Notre Dame, aided by a 61-yard punt return, scored two quick touchdowns early in the third quarter to take the lead.
The Cardinals answered with a pair of touchdowns of their own, stopped Notre Dame at the nine-yard line and avoided overtime when Notre Dame's Kyle Brindza missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt as the Cardinals held on for a 31-28 victory Saturday.
"Things were a bit rough there for a minute," said Louisville quarterback Reggie Bonnafon. "We just kept our composure and knew that we were going to turn it back around and keep executing our game plan and that's what happened."
Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino said he was happy for his players.
"We knew it was going to be a fourth-quarter game," he said. "They competed extremely hard. I think our assistant coaches on offense did a great job on the sideline of calming our guys down, keeping our poise."
The Irish had a chance to force overtime, but Brindza's kick went wide right with 51 seconds left. It was the second straight time a missed field-goal try cost Notre Dame a game. Brindza missed a field-goal try in overtime a week earlier against Northwestern.
"We've lost back-to-back games because we couldn't put down a ball and kick it 32 yards," said Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly.
Bonnafon ran for a pair of touchdowns and threw a 21-yard scoring pass to DeVante Parker for the Cardinals. Bonnafon was eight for 31 passing for 180 yards with one interception.
"Reggie did an unbelievable job in the fourth quarter of leading us down the field," Petrino said.
The No. 24-ranked Cardinals (8-3) kept alive their hopes for a third straight season of at least 10 wins. The Irish (7-4), after starting the season 6-0 and being ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press media poll, have lost four of their last five, and the three straight losses is the longest losing streak for the Irish since Kelly's first season as coach in 2010.